Most of the teachers have joined the network for the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other teachers of the same grade or subject. For this reason, the job-alike groups have become the central organizing feature of the network and one of our most important tools to:
- Reduce isolation
- Support the implementation of the Common Core State Standards
- Increase Professional Capital…by really investing in the development of social capital
These groups, which range in size from three–eight people, have a facilitator from NWCC or Boston College, have identified common problems of practice, and have agreed to collaborate with each other. Our goal is to develop a professional learning community for each grade and subject.
Current job-alike groups:
- Kindergarten–2nd grade; 3rd–5th grade; 6th grade
- Jr. high/high school English language arts; math; science; social studies
- Special education
- Emergent groups, e.g. counseling, technology
- District/school administration
- State education agency
At the core of NW RISE is the dedication of each member to find ways to improve student engagement. In this vein, NW RISE is:
- Gathering data on school and network levels of student engagement
- Developing a framework to define and improve student engagement
- Job-alike groups focusing on student engagement in their collaborative projects
- Reflecting on how teacher practice impacts student engagement
Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Implementation
Another topic NW RISE members support each other on is the implementation of the CCSS.
Isolated rural teachers often lack subject or grade-level colleagues with whom they can work together on issues related to the implementation of rigorous new standards. Job-alike groups provide opportunities for isolated rural teachers to share resources, collaborate, and engage in relevant professional learning around the CCSS.
A key concept explored in NW RISE meetings is that of building educators’ professional capital. In the book Reviving Teaching with “Professional Capital” (coauthored by NW RISE architect and facilitator Dr. Andy Hargreaves), “Professional capital involves a long-term investment to develop human capital (and economic returns) from early childhood to adult life. For high-quality teachers and teaching, this means requiring teachers to be highly committed, thoroughly prepared, continuously developed, properly paid, well networked with each other to maximize their own improvement, and able to make effective judgments together using all their capabilities and experience.”
At the heart of this network, we are trying to connect educators with each other in really intentional ways to develop their social capital, which we believe can improve their human capital and ultimately their professional capital.